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The first purpose of the opening movement of each session is to establish a sense of welcome and hospitality. The second purpose is to begin the session with the child's human experience, i.e. the child's "story." Located prominently in the room should be an enthronement of the Bible, with candle. Gather around the Word for prayer.
Open the session by drawing a simple picture of a church on the chalkboard. (This can be as simple as a square with a triangle above it, with a cross above that, as in the graphic below.)
Next, draw a large circle around the church, as shown below.
Ask the children, "What do you think this circle represents?" After allowing some responses, explain that the circle represents the world.
Instruct the children, "Name some problems that affect people or communities in the world." (e.g. poverty, wars, sickness, etc.). Write their responses in the area inside the circle but outside the Church.
Point out that the picture of the Church is inside the picture of the circle. What does that represent? The Church exists within the world.
Finally, draw a heart that encompasses both the Church and world.
Ask the children what they think the heart represents. After allowing some responses, explain that the heart represents two things. First, the heart represents the great love that God has for the world and for all the people in it, including Christians and the Church. Second, the heart reminds us that as disciples, we are called to imitate Christ's love by extending his love to all. The Church exists within the world, and so we are concerned about all the problems that God's children all over the world face. As disciples of Christ, we are called to love God, and we are also called to love our neighbors who are both near us and far away.
Gather around the Word to pray a simple opening prayer and proclaim the Word of God.
Let us pray.
Loving Father, we thank you for calling us to be disciples of your Son, Jesus Christ. Spirit that guides us, help us to be disciples who put love in action. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Students are seated. Catechist takes Bible from enthronement and proclaims reading. Be sure reading is marked in advance.
The catechist makes the transition to this movement by describing that Jesus teaches us how to be disciples who put love in action. He tells us we have to love God and also "love one another." Prior to proclaiming the reading the catechist may wish to prepare the children for some of the strong language in this passage, e.g. hate and murder. However, avoid too much "explaining" before the proclamation.
Proclaim the reading from Mark 12:28-34
(Note: The same reading used in the Adult Small Faith Community Sharing and the High School Lesson Plan so that the sessions can be intergenerational, if desired):
A reading from the Gospel of Mark…
After the reading a brief period of silence follows. Then, the catechist asks the children these or similar questions:
After the children's initial response, read the reading again, asking the children to listen to what Jesus says about loving others.
A reading from the Gospel of Mark…
The catechist makes a transition from reflection on the Scripture to discussion on the teaching of the Church.
The Church wants to help us be disciples that put love in action.
The bishops of the United States have written a document that emphasizes the importance of being disciples who put love in action. (Refer to the pictures from the beginning of the session.) Remember, the Church exists within the world. If we want to show that we love God, we must love all the other people in the world and help those who are in need. We have to help take care of other people. We also have to help our leaders make good laws that help our neighbors who are in need.
For disciples who are citizens of the United States, voting is a very important way to put love in action. There are also many other ways we can be disciples who put love in action by caring for others.
The Church teaches that good disciples are concerned about:
The Church also says (write this quote on newsprint or blackboard):
"Participation in political life in light of fundamental moral principles is an essential duty for every Catholic and all people of good will." - Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship: A Call to Political Responsibility (no. 57)
Break down the quote for the children by asking and answering the following questions:
"Explain that the bishops remind us that we are guided by our beliefs. One very important belief is that God loves us very much, and so we should love each other. They also remind us that "every Catholic" and "all people" are called to put our beliefs in action.
Return to the adult gathering or return to the prayer circle. If praying in the classroom, refer to the list on newsprint.
Using the ways to put love in action that the children brainstormed during the questions, make a litany with the response being, "Lord, hear our prayer." Catechist leads the litany using examples the children gave. For example:
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